Illegal early access to super warning

Accessing your super early may be illegal

Despite what you may have heard or read elsewhere, you cannot access your super before you retire unless you meet one of the very few exceptions to this fundamental rule of superannuation law.

Some may say they can help you set up an SMSF so you can access your super for reasons such as paying off your credit card, buying a house or going on holiday. This is not true — it is illegal.

For most people, you can only access your superannuation when:

  • turn 60 years of age and then cease employment or retire from the workforce
  • you turn 65 years of age (regardless of whether you’re still working or not).

Otherwise, it is illegal. There are only a few reasons that you might be allowed to access your super early. These include temporary or permanent incapacity, severe financial hardship, some compassionate grounds or you have a terminal medical condition. Strict criteria apply to each of these and your superannuation fund administrator will need to assist you in any application for these early release super benefits.

If you illegally access your super early, you risk:

  • losing your retirement savings
  • incurring extra tax, penalties and interest
  • disqualification as a self-managed super fund (SMSF) trustee if relevant, and have your name publicised for doing so.

Be extremely careful if someone offers to help you access your super early.

These ‘promoters’ will often:

  • charge a lot of money
  • ask you to transfer some or all your super from your existing super fund to the SMSF
  • tell you that you can use as much as you need for personal expenses.

Identity theft warning

These promoters may also ask for your personal information. If you provide any personal details, they can steal your identity. With your personal information, they can steal your super for themselves.

Preventative action

If a promoter contacts you, call the ATO on 13 10 20 straight away to get advice.

Do not agree to anything and do not sign any documents or give them your personal details. 


Disclaimer: This article contains general advice only and has been prepared without taking into account particular objectives, financial circumstances and needs. The information provided is not a substitute for legal, tax and financial product advice. Before making any decision based on this information, you should assess its relevance to your individual circumstances. The information provided in this newsletter is objectively ascertainable and therefore does not constitute financial product advice.  If you require personal advice, please contact us to arrange an appointment with one of our licensed SMSF advisors. Source: ATO